BETA

Instructions For Use/How to Use

A PDF version of this text can be downloaded here.

Upload is part of the MEKETREpository, a digital database with an extensive and still increasing amount of high quality and verified data about reliefs and paintings decorating the tombs of officials dated or datable to the First Intermediate Period (ca. 2150 – 2040 B.C.) and the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2040 – 1640 B.C.) of ancient Egypt.

Crowd sourcing technologies are ideally suited to enrich the MEKETREpository by drawing upon images previously unavailable to the scientific community. Therefore a new interactive platform, Upload, has been created enabling users to upload unrestricted high-quality photographs depicting relevant items of Middle Kingdom iconography, provide annotations on individual objects represented in the scenes, or suggest inclusion of new thesaurus terms.

It offers an easy-to-use interface through which everyone can share private photo collections and perform simple repetitive but highly helpful tasks, thereby contributing to the scholarly enterprise. All data of sufficient quality will be regularly transferred to the MEKETREpository.

The Problem

MEKETREpository aims at providing scholars and the interested public with detailed descriptions of and commentaries on Middle Kingdom tomb reliefs and paintings. The basis for the graphical annotations is formed by our image repository which gathers together photos of reliefs and paintings taken on site or at museums as well as published drawings and tomb plans. However, many of these images are subject of copyright restrictions and cannot therefore be made available to the entire online community. In addition, a significant number of tombs have so far not been published according to modern standards and are generally poorly documented. As it is impossible, within the scope of our project, to carry out an extensive documentation campaign covering all relevant Egyptian sites from the Nile valley up to the Delta, we are largely dependent upon carefully selected image material provided by external contributors in order to enlarge our repository and still ensure a high scholarly standard. Adding to the problem are increasingly unfavourable conditions of preservation within Egypt which have resulted during the last decennia in the degradation and even destruction of formerly well-preserved tomb decoration. Consequently, old photographs of tomb interiors, taken by both Egyptologists and non-specialists, have the potential of documenting a much better state of preservation than the current one.

The Solution – Your Contribution

At this point YOU as part of the MEKETRE community come into play. Many colleagues and non-professional enthusiasts possess large amounts of digital and analogue photos (slides) taken during their visits to Egypt or to international museums housing Egyptian collections. Often they were lucky to gain access to tombs that are today closed to the public or no longer well enough preserved to render a photographic documentation worthwhile. The MEKETRE project and with it the entire scholarly community would benefit tremendously if it could draw upon relevant image material from these private archives and incorporate it into the repository.

What we seek

If you possess personal, high-quality photographs recording the decorative programme or any part of a particular monument, the editors would be very grateful if you became part of the MEKETRE community.

You can easily upload your images and add useful information. Therefore, you might choose a title for your pictures and indicate the date when the photo was taken. In order to identify the location of the depicted object or tomb, you are requested to choose between on-site, in museum orat other location. Depending on which choice you have made you are asked to provide additional information on a voluntary basis. Clicking on on-site the additional options are necropolis, tomb owner, tomb number and description. If your picture shows an object from a museum, you can also name the museum, inventory number and give a description. To identify an object/tomb from another location more precisely you can specify the location and give a description. Finally you need to confirm that you have read and accepted the Terms of Use and provide your email contact. Otherwise we cannot get back to you for potential inquiries. Please note that your email address is recorded for internal use by the MEKETRE staff only and will not be made visible on the site or shared with third parties. Registration is not required if you just want to upload photos. However, you have to create a personal account if you would like to benefit from all the features of Upload such as annotating, commenting and creating favourites lists (see below). personal account if you would like to benefit from all the features of Upload such as annotating, commenting and creating favourites lists (see below).

DOs (best practice examples)

What we would like you to provide

Good quality photos of entire walls or architectural contexts

and/or

Good quality photos of whole scenes

and/or

Good quality photos of iconographic details.

What are factors of good quality?

Resolution: 300dpi or more (at DIN A4 size or similar) is advisable. Many cameras provide 72dpi images by default, however. In such cases the point of reference is the number of pixels. Images measuring about 3000×2000 pixel or more are ideal.

Lighting: Naturally, we prefer well lit photos where all the details of a wall painting or relief are easily discernible. At the same time it is clear that many Egyptian tombs do not provide favourable lighting conditions, all the more so as using flash light has been strictly forbidden for a long time (and rightly so). Therefore we are also happy to receive images with non-optimal exposure, provided that the raw data contain sufficient pictorial information. As a rule of thumb, underexposure is better than over-exposure since completely white image areas do no longer contain any information and cannot be post-processed in order to enhance visibility.

Comprehensiveness: In many cases a single good photo of an isolated detail can turn out to be of great importance in resolving problems of identification or interpretation. In addition we also seek image material covering whole scenes, walls and entire tombs. The more comprehensive and systematic a photographic record, the more it can aid research and help to fill in gaps of documentation. If you have more than one photo of a scene, wall or tomb, don’t hesitate to upload them all. Overlap can be an advantage.

Context: The more we know about the image, the easier it is to make sense of it and categorize its contents correctly. Even high quality pictures showing highly remarkable Middle Kingdom tomb scenes do not help us much if we are unable to identify the scene context and provenance or have to invest large amounts of time in order to find out. So please provide a reasonable amount of additional information on your photos. We are particularly interested to learn

what the photo depicts (title)

(e.g. hunting in the desert)

when the photo was taken

(e.g. July 18 2007)

Please note that when uploading a photo, the file’s metadata such as type of camera, photo date or GPS coordinates with some models are stored as well.

where the photo was taken

(e.g. on site at Beni Hasan or in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

pieces of information that help to identify the motif/object

(e.g. Tomb owner: Amenemhat, Tomb number: 2, Description/location: offering scene in main hall, west wall, 1st register

in museums and collections: inventory number: e.g. MMA, inv.-no. 24.125.08)

Contents: While most of Middle Kingdom funerary iconography can still be found in situ on the walls of tombs across Egypt, a considerable amount of tomb decoration has since the 19th century been removed and transferred to museums all over the world. This is why we also encourage users to share photos of such artefacts taken during museum visits. As many of the items depicted on Middle Kingdom tomb walls also occur on the inner sides of wooden coffins, photos of First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom coffins are welcome as well. However, copyright restrictions may prohibit us from displaying images of museum objects.

DON’Ts

We particularly ask you NOT to provide

Photos of which you are not the copyright holder or which have been published by third parties before

taken from Lepsius, Denkmäler II, pl. 133

Heavily retouched or manipulated photos

Photos of particularly low resolution and/or poor image quality (e.g. low contrast or blur)

Photos depicting people in front of monuments who obscure most parts of the ancient decoration.

Functionality

Search

Upload allows users to “search” for specific photos, monuments, themes, scenes, motifs and icons as well as users, annotations, etc. (google-like search). In order to reach the data on the chosen item, the user clicks on one of the results.

Explore

You can browse through all the images already uploaded by clicking on “explore”.

Register/Login – my area

If you intend to contribute to our project on a regular basis and want to profit from the benefits of a personalized interface, we encourage you to make use of the free registration. Although photos can be uploaded without registering, by creating a personal account you gain access to all the features of Upload.

If you decide to delete your account, please email staff-meketre-egyptology@cs.univie.ac.at.

Creating annotations, thesaurus terms, commentaries, favourites lists

Once you have logged in, you do not only see all the pictures already uploaded by you, you can also annotate any photo in store by dragging a frame across the particular area you wish to mark and label. If the term chosen by you is not part of the thesaurus list already, it will be added as soon as you have clicked on “save”. In addition you can leave a comment below any of the photos, perhaps sharing additional information on the image. Finally you can add pictures to your favourites list by clicking on the like-button shown beneath the image.

Technical Requirements

Upload may be used with any standards-compliant Internet browser. It has been tested with Mozilla Firefox (version 8 and above), Google Chrome (version 16 and above, both desktop and mobile). Other browsers such as Safari, Opera and Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 9 and above) probably will work with the repository, but no tests have been conducted so far. JavaScript support must be enabled in the browser utilized, but this is, in any case, the default setting in all current browsers.

Acknowledgements

Upload is part of an interdisciplinary research project, conducted at the Institute for Egyptology in cooperation with the Department of Distributed and Multimedia Systems at the University of Vienna. The realisation of the project was made possible by the generous support of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF); project number P 25958.

Contact

If you have comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to email staff-meketre-egyptology@cs.univie.ac.at or send post to Meketre, Institute for Egyptology, Franz-Klein-Gasse 1, 1190 Vienna, Austria.